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More NHS workers set to join pay fight

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Strikes showed workers’ power—now unions must escalate the action, says?Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue 2426
Radiographers on their picket line at Kings College Hospital on Monday of this week
Radiographers on their picket line at King’s College Hospital on Monday of this week (Pic: Chris Kelly)

Health workers in Wales in the Unison union have voted by 77 percent to strike over pay.

The workers are the latest group to join the fight for pay in the NHS.

Radiographers across Britain stuck for four hours on Monday of this week.

This followed a strike of up to 500,000 health workers across England in the Unison, Unite, GMB unions and the Royal College of Midwives the previous Monday.

Daniel is a rep for the Society of Radiographers at London’s Homerton Hospital.

He told Socialist Worker, “We haven’t had a pay rise in five years—and in real terms it amounts to a near 15 percent pay cut.”

The strike was solidly supported with large, lively picket lines. Workers help up signs reading, “No raise—no rays”.

Health workers are furious at Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt for refusing to give most even a 1 percent pay rise. But the strikes are about more than pay.

The Daily Mail newspaper used the Unison Wales ballot result to attack the “meltdown in Labour-run Welsh NHS”.

Between 2010-11 and 2015-16 NHS Wales will have suffered a £1.5 billion cut.

But it is rank hypocrisy for right wingers to blame Labour in Wales for the crisis in the health service. The NHS in England is in crisis after years of budget cuts and privatisation.


A damning report into health privatisation was leaked last week.

It revealed that operations carried out by outsourcing giant Vanguard Healthcare Solutions were “rushed” with ten times the usual number of complications.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has promised to repeal the hated Health and Social Care Act. 

Yet Labour is committed to Tory spending cuts. And the crisis in Wales shows that workers can’t rely on Labour to protect the NHS. 

The strikes show what the alternative is. 

Trade unionists and campaigners joined picket lines in solidarity for “Breakfasts for the NHS”. Passing cars loudly tooted their horns in support. 

St Mungo’s housing workers, who have been on strike for seven days (see page 20), marched down to the London University College Hospital radiographers’ picket line.

NUT union rep Ken Muller visited pickets in north London. He said, “We’re all fighting the same fight—against privatisation of our services and austerity.”

There is widespread opposition to the Tories and where union leaders give a lead, workers will fight.

The potential for the momentum to grow must not be squandered.

Unison’s health executive is meeting on Thursday of this week. 

Workers should pass branch motions calling for more action and petition in work.

Every trade unionist and campaigner has to keep the pressure on the union leaders to call the kind of action that can win.

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